Salamander Hunting In Swine Creek

I love salamanders! I clearly remember as a child, when I lived in Illinois, searching through the moist, dead leaves in the window wells for those handsome yellow-spotted creatures. But when I moved to Ohio in the 5th grade and even to Geauga County in the 9th grade, I rarely saw them. We had no window wells anymore and perhaps I was just too busy to bother. It wasn’t until after I had my own kids that I started the hunting again. Now, each year around  April 27, which happens to be the birth date of a son, I’m reminded it’s salamander migration time around the Geauga Park district. It’s always a challenge to go on the hunt and see what I can unearth under rocks by a creek.

This year I went to Swine Creek Park twice during the last week of April. Once with three children who had never been on a salamander hunt, and again with my husband a few days later. On our way down the Valley Trail, we passed some gorgeous displays of white and pink trillium.

The kids and I stopped to smell the fragrant wild Sweet William in their favorite color – purple.

These chihldren had never been to a park before. “Park” meant playground in their minds! So we spent a few hours hiking through the woods on the trail and rummaging through the creek bed in search of our slimy little friends. And we weren’t disappointed! We found and caught three northern two-line  salamanders.

They tried holding them as they scurried across their hands. Watching a child discover something new for the first time is always a delight and this was no exception. They were little adventurers on a mission – lifting up rock after rock and trying to spot one of these slithery amphibians before they buried themselves in the mud. After everyone had time for observation, we placed them right back where we picked them up from and watched them wriggle off.  We talked about how salamanders protect themselves from predators. If caught, they have the marvelous ability to break part of their tail off, leaving the hunter with only a bit of a snack while the salamander dashes to safety. He will later grow his tail back.

After our successful hunting, we climbed up the big hill leading to the trail that takes us to the maple house. We saw more bunches of purple flowers, wild geranium, I believe.

I made sure to point out this prolific intruder that they better learn to immediately recognize if they intend on doing much hiking! Poison ivy!

We had a fabulous day. And best of all – it was free! There’s no need to spend money for some great family fun when you live in Geauga County. Just visit any one of the many parks and let the kids explore!

When I returned a few days later with my husband, I caught this little fellow in the creek bed. I had not seen a black salamander for years and really don’t know what kind it was! Is it a baby yellow spotted without the spots? I want it to be, since they were my childhood favorites. Anyone know? Please leave me a comment!

 

Geauga News
Author: Geauga News